There’s a lot that happens in NFL free agency, and certain things grab headlines and we remember them and forget some of the under the radar moves (good and bad). Add to that the NFL is starting to actually loosen up and make some trades, which is an additional distraction in all this. It’s hard to remember all the moves and rank and compare them, etc. It’s fun read the rankings of the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, and I have my own list in my head…but tends to be more based off the memorable moments or teams that got that one guy I like.
So, I am wanting to go through and exercise where I study each teams offseason moves (to date), en masse, and see if there are any teams I missed having a secret great or secret awful offseason. The NFL schedules will be out soon and then the NFL Draft…we gotta get ready for over/under win total betting.
To make my studies fun and share the info, I came up with a way to combine my love of football study and love of tournaments to pit the NFL teams against each other for who has had the best free agency (and trade) offseason so far. Head-to-head, 32 teams, like a soccer style tourney in a sense…#1 v. #4 and #2 v. #3 in last season’s standings and we’ll work towards the 8 divisional winners and then 8-4-2-winner.
We’re down to the divisional finals…
AFC and NFC North Finals:
Matchup #4 of 8: Green Bay v. Minnesota
Packers key +/-
Jimmy Graham, Tramon Williams, DeShone Kizer, Muhammad Wilkerson
Jordy Nelson (OAK), Morgan Burnett (PIT), Damarious Randall (CLE)
Vikings key +/-
Kirk Cousins, Sheldon Richardson, Trevor Siemian, Kendall Wright,
Jerick McKinnon, Case Keenum, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, LB Emmanuel Lamur (OAK), Jarius Wright (CAR)
MIN: They lose three QBs and yet improve at QB by adding back Cousins and Siemian. The Jerick McKinnon loss hurts but the Vikings still have RB talent left over. The QB upgrade is everything.
GB: The Packers lose Jordy Nelson, but add Jimmy Graham – similar entities. I think Nelson was more important. Losing Burnett-Randall is not a huge deal, but when healthy they are NFL starters -- it doesn’t help the Pack and Tramon Williams back doesn’t really get anyone excited. Then they make a move which clearly shows the new GM hasn’t a clue…they trade for DeShone Kizer, who is the absolute worst.
The winner – I don’t see the Packers offseason moves as a radical swing to the upside. If Wilkerson pays off, then it‘s going to be viewed in history as a great offseason. The Vikings took on their own ex-communicated Jets DL (Richardson)…and they have the similar long-shot hope he turns his career around.
Outside of the dueling ex-Jets’ star DLs between these two teams…the Kirk Cousins signing was so impactful that it gives the Vikings the win for the better offseason than GB. The Siemian add for insurance was pretty savvy too.
Matchup #3 of 8: Cleveland v. Cincinnati
Bengals key +/-
Preston Brown, OT Cordy Glenn, DT Chris Baker
OC/Russell Bodine (BUF), OG/Andre Smith (ARI), Jeremy Hill (NE), Chris Smith (CLE), A.J. McCarron (BUF), dropped from #12 to #21 in draft (Cordy Glenn trade), Pac-Man Jones (cut),
Browns key +/-
Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Janis, Drew Stanton, E.J. Gaines, Darren Fells, CB Travis Carrie, CB Terrance Mitchell, Carlos Hyde, DE Chris Smith, OT Chris Hubbard, Jarvis Landry, DB Damarious Randall
Cody Kessler (JAX), DeShone Kizer (GB/trade), Marcus Martin (DAL), Jason McCourty (NE/trade), Isaiah Crowell (NYJ), Danny Shelton (NE/trade)
CIN: Cincy lost names but didn’t lose much talent. Cordy Glenn is potentially worth all the other moves. Chris Baker is a solid add to the D-Line.
CLE: A lot to unpack here…
Did adding a bunch of B-C grade players and losing some potential B+ or better players make the Browns ‘better’? Losing McCourty-Shelton hurts…shocking how they just gave them away almost. However, the slew of useful+ players makes up for in the overall +/- sense. Tyrod Taylor and Carlos Hyde are major offensive pieces…even if Tyrod is not the greatest. He’s one of the best QB the Browns have had in a long time…more a commentary on the Browns than Tyrod… Jarvis Landry is an overrated, but major add.
The Browns got drastically better on offense this offseason but took a hit on defense…but defense is where they had some talent depth anyway. Overall, all the moves, a net positive for the Browns so far this offseason.
The winner – The Cordy Glenn trade is looking smarter and smarter as this NFL Draft is a little shy on OTs. The Browns sloshed a lot of names around but unsure if they will make a huge difference…much better on offense, took some hits on defense. Going to give the slight edge to the Browns. Let them win something!
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